Cocaine use is on the rise amongst young people in the UK, so what do you need to know about its effects and its legality?

Cocaine is a white, flaky powder obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. It is odourless, soluble, and has powerful stimulant properties similar to those of amphetamines. The most common method of taking cocaine involves sniffing or snorting a small amount (usually called a line) up the nose through a small tube (often a rolled-up banknote or straw). The drug is then absorbed into the blood via the nasal membrane. Cocaine can also be heated and the fumes inhaled. In soluble form, cocaine can be injected.

Other forms of cocaine:

Freebase cocaine is cocaine without its water-soluble component or 'base'. A chemical treatment is used to draw out the 'pure' cocaine from many of the impurities, increasing the impact of the effects when smoked. Crack is a form of freebase cocaine made by heating cocaine hydrochloride with baking soda or ammonia in water. Speedball is the term given for an injectable and dangerous mixture of soluble cocaine and heroin.

What are the effects of cocaine?

Cocaine produces feelings of wellbeing, mental exhilaration, heightened confidence and euphoria.
The sensations often last between 15-30 minutes.
Anxiety, paranoia, depression, and insomnia can occur during the come down period.
Other effects can include tremors, muscle twitching, rapid pulse, nausea, anxiety, high blood pressure, cold sweats, and mood changes.

What are the risks of taking cocaine?

Chronic sneezing, frequent nosebleeds, and nasal congestion can be a consequence of snorting cocaine. After a heavy session, users can feel like they've got a bad cold.
Repeated snorting can cause serious damage to the membranes lining the nose and the structure separating the nostrils.
The mucous membranes may become irritated and inflamed, with sores developing inside the nostrils.
For women who are pregnant, cocaine can cause bleeding, miscarriage and an increased risk of stillbirth.
Users can develop a strong psychological dependence to cocaine.
Overdose is possible, and even fatal, in some cases.

Cocaine and the law:

Cocaine in all forms is a Class A drug. It is illegal to produce, supply, or possess. It is also illegal to allow premises to be used for supplying or producing cocaine.

Cocaine is also known as:

Charlie, chang, coke, chaz, gak, toot, Vialli, snow, white, nose candy, Bolivian marching powder, blow and sniff.

Other terms associated with cocaine:

Line - a single dose of snortable cocaine arranged in a row.
Racking out - the action of chopping cocaine, usually with a credit card or razor blade, and arranging it into lines.
Wrap - folded paper used to contain powdered drugs.

If you're planning to take cocaine:

Keep track of the amount used as tolerance quickly builds up. The more you take to get the same effect, so the risk increases of a hit your body may be unable to handle.

If injecting, use new needles to reduce the risk of HIV or hepatitis infection.